So we’re finally back in Sydney after 3 awesome weeks in Africa. I had NO internet connection on my computer the entire time we were there so I was limited to using our friends’ net. I didn’t want to eat up all their bandwidth by posting too many blogs and photos so unfortunately everyone has had to wait for any real details on our trip That just means that now I’ll have lots and lots to blog about for the next week or so.
We’ll call it Africa Week here at Elsja.com. 🙂
So to start off Africa Week- I’ll post Andrew’s blog that was actually written 3 weeks ago. Enjoy.
Day 1 13th March.
The beginning. After dropping our house keys off with Paul and VK, the drive to the airport was uneventful. I dropped Elsja off at the international terminal and then parked back in my staff parking at the domestic before catching the transfer bus back across to the international terminal airside. On check-in they told us there were only two business class seats available and we were the first to get them! Bonus. I guess there are perks to being a captain and booking a high priority trip. This is definitely one of the major things I will miss when I leave Qantaslink.
Customs and security was pretty standard except that Elsja screwed up her outgoing documentation, refilled it out and after tearing up the wrong one, realized she’s accidentally torn up the good one. This was discovered after lining up however, which resulted in her having to going back to fill it out for a third time. So we ended up being split up which out worked anyway as I had some phone calls to make before boarding. They never give us our boarding passes on standby until about 30-40 minutes before departure so it’s always a bit of a rush through customs and security. This is good in a way as we never have to wait around to board. We got the upstairs cabin for the flight which is always better. More personalised service (at least it feels that way) and it’s usually quieter.
The flight was pretty much the same as any long haul flight you try to fill your time as much as possible until after the meal service before getting bored enough to sleep. This involved me watching one movie (Law Abiding Citizen), reading some of my book (Bill Bryson’s A short history of nearly everything) and going through two newspapers. I’ve gotta say, for the first time I wasn’t too impressed with the food on Qantas business. This is probably also due to the fact that they ran out of the options we wanted on both occasions when they got around to serving us. We’re staff so the full paying passengers get served first with their choice and we basically get what’s left. Not usually too bad because they generally over cater anyway. This time though I missed out on the options labeled healthy at both lunch and dinner. I guess people are just being healthier in general these days. Sucks for me. The toasted sandwich I ordered mid-flight sucked the big one too. When I say I’ll have all (8) ingredients minus the mustard and cheese please, that’s pretty much what I mean. So when it comes with a dab of olive tapenade and a few dodgy pieces of salami, it’s not very impressive. The posh butler type waiter/flight attendant didn’t seem too impressed that we were asking him to make us toasted paninis either. I still haven’t figured out why you are generally treated worse whilst travelling as staff. Don’t they travel as staff too sometimes?
After all that I only ended up getting about one and half hours of sleep anyway. I filled the rest of trip watching documentaries on evolution, Neil Armstrong, Charles Darwin and the financials of the porn industry and how pretty much every organization in the world (including the Catholic Church, much to my delight) supports it. Touch.
We arrived in Johannesburg on time at 3:30pm (12:30am Sydney time) and went through customs. What a joke. The chick who stamped our passports barely even looked at us. No questions. No paperwork to fill out. Nothing. We grabbed our bags off the rack, walked through a sparsely staffed sterile area and suddenly we were in South Africa. The first thing I noticed was how unprofessional the airport staff are – customs, security and airline staff. They were flirting with each other, leaning against walls even standing there eating chips out of a giant bag. The first chick I went up to ask for help was on her mobile. Did she say anything? Even wave a hand? No. Just a big, dumb blank stare as she kept talking and giggling with someone who was obviously known personally. What a moron. We walked away.
Our next flight wasn’t for nearly three hours but we went and tried to check in anyway as we were on standby again and it’s always best to just get your foot in the door. At first they seemed pretty positive about us getting on but then he told us it was overbooked! This didn’t make a lot of sense but they told us to come back and see them at 5:30pm and they’d let us know. It hit me at this point that we hadn’t even thought about a Plan B in case we didn’t get on this flight. This is very unlike me so I thought about it and realised that it was because when I’d called the night before to check our baggage allowance, the chick told me that the flight was pretty empty and we’d be fine. So I didn’t give it another thought. Idiot. ALWAYS have a Plan B . Suddenly the thought of having to not only go to a hotel, but also to figure out which one, where it was, how much, how to get there, bla bla bla – was not very appealing. In the end though, we got on and they ended up giving us business class too which was great! I guess what they probably meant initially (and why they were being so coy), was that they knew there were seats in business class but were trying to see if they could squeeze us into economy before upgrading us. You had nothing to fear Check-in-Chick, we didn’t eat a damn thing anyway.
Countless teas, three coffees, one diet coke and some nuts later, we arrived in Cape Town. Stu and Kimbo’s smiling faces were there waiting for us as we trudged off (Elsja’s 15kg carry-on strapped to my back) and it was just great to see them. We chatted on the way home but it kinda felt like I was drunk. By that point we’d been awake for nearly twenty four hours and obviously travelling during that time (a fourteen hour flight followed by a three hour wait then another two hour flight) really doesn’t help. We arrived at Kimbo and Stu’s place and after a tour I can really see how much we get ripped off in Sydney. It comes fully furnished, includes panoramic water views, all bills AND a maid. What an amazing um, condo? Apartment? I actually don’t know.
One of the first things we did notice was the wind. Oh, how windy. The suburb of Camps Bay snuggles nicely between the Atlantic Ocean and a small mountain range made up of Table Moutain and The Twelve Apostles. These two topographical features bring out the best of a combination in Katabatic/Adiabatic winds and the sea breeze. The result? A howling gale all night long. Not too disruptive to Elsja and I though. We sleep with ear plugs.
After our quick tour of the pad, Stu kindly busted out the local beer and cider with a cheeky bourbon thrown in for old times sake. We shot the shit for a couple more hours before turning the lights out at 11:00pm (8:00am Sydney time). It was great to get to bed. There is always the fear of getting stranded when you’re travelling on standby so it’s a huge relief when things works out.
Quite a successful day all in all. The sun is just rising on Day Two now after my 4:45am wake up. What a view, what a pad. Hopefully what a city.